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expert reaction to study of blood pressure and room temperature

Researchers, publishing in Journal of Hypertension, reported that warmer indoor temperatures were associated with lower blood pressure.

Prof Graham McGeown, Dunville Professor of Physiology at Queen’s University Belfast, said:

“This type of ‘association’ study cannot directly demonstrate cause and effect but it has been carefully controlled to rule out other factors known to affect blood pressure. The apparent changes might become important when pressures are close to the thresholds for treating hypertension. Increasing the thermostat setting might be a better option than a lifetime of drug treatment. This merits further study.”

Prof Peter Sever, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics at Imperial College London, said:

“Cold is a well-known stimulus to the autonomic nervous system. Temperature receptors in the skin send messages to the brain which regulates sympathetic outflow, including vasomotor control of blood vessels.

“Cold causes vasoconstriction and blood pressure rise, while heat causes vasodilation and blood pressure fall. That’s why your average blood pressure is higher in winter than in summer.  Interestingly, heart disease rates are lower in Southern compared with Northern Europe; temperature could be a factor.

“If you move someone from a warm room to a cold room, their blood pressure will rise, and vice versa; so room temperature does affect BP levels – but only by a few mmHg.

“The diagnosis of hypertension in those with borderline levels requires measurements over a 24 hour period, which inevitably will record blood pressure over a range of environmental temperatures.”


* My blood pressure is low today, do you have the heating on?” The association between indoor temperature and blood pressure’ by Hongde Zhao et al was published in the Journal of Hypertension on Thursday 23 August 2018.


Declared interests

None received.

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